If you’ve been at the University of Connecticut long enough, you’ve probably heard or seen USG a lot. There are plenty of flyers on the walls of our academic buildings advertising USG initiatives, lots of discussions between students about what the USG is up to and even some appearances from USG leadership at widely-attended events like Freshman Convocation. But, most students likely don’t really know what the USG is, or what they do.
USG stands for Undergraduate Student Government, and this organization is one of the most influential on campus. USG has an annual budget of over $1.5 million and is responsible for allocating that money to 600+ student clubs and organizations as well as their own initiatives. Members of USG also represent the interests of the entirety of the student body (over 24,000 people) to the UConn administration and state and town governments.
You might be wondering: why are we bringing this up now? Well, tonight is the deadline to submit an “Intent to Run” form to join USG as a student senator. The structure of USG is similar to that of the U.S. government in that there are three branches: executive, judicial and legislative. Senators are a part of the legislative branch. They are responsible for voting on crucial matters that come before the government and are each required to sit on at least one committee that organizes initiatives to serve UConn students in some way.
There are plenty of ways that running for a Senator position would allow you to take part in change at UConn. Through sitting on committees such as external affairs, student services, academic affairs and student development, your ideas about how UConn should work can be heard and potentially implemented. If you believe strongly in changing something about UConn, USG is one route that can enable you to make that change. Students should know that this opportunity exists for them and understand their potential to get involved if they wish to do so.
Senator seats that are open right now include residential seats (representing students from different residence halls and off-campus students), academic seats (representing students from different academic colleges) and multicultural and diversity seats. Voting for the senator positions will be open from 12 p.m. Sept. 28 to 12 p.m. Sept. 30. Get involved and run or vote if it sounds like this is a good opportunity for you. But, even if you don’t, at least know that these positions exist and that the people that hold them are meant to serve you.
Today, and through the remainder of student election season, we should participate actively in our student government. Going forward however, the UConn administration and the administration of USG must continue to ensure that student representative elections, their consequences and how to fully participate are common knowledge. Like any government, in order to be democratic and accountable the Undergraduate Student Government needs to be elected each year by an educated and informed student body, and administrators and student leaders alike must work towards this goal.